Ellen was born in 1891 in Manchester and studied History at Manchester University. She went on to work for suffrage societies and the Shop Workers’ Union.
She was elected Labour MP for Middlesbrough East in 1924, serving until 1931. In 1925 her campaigning saw the Government amend anomalies adversely affecting widows in its Pension Bill.
She returned to Parliament in 1935 representing Jarrow and leading the Hunger Marches. In 1945, she became the first female Education Secretary, introducing free milk and school meals.
A prolific writer, Ellen wrote ‘Clash’ – a fictional account of Middlesbrough during the 1926 General Strike; as well as pen portraits and political literature.